African American Families: Historical and Contemporary Forces Shaping Family Life and Studies

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Book Chapter

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Introduction: Any attempt to examine sociological and historical information regarding African American families is fraught with very broad and controversial literatures. Much of this reflects a perspective that generally stressed the negative impacts of slavery on evolving Black family structures and relationships, often speaking of the alleged "demise" and "pathologies" of Black families. This perspective is largely reflective of culturally biased analyses, and racism endemic to academic study and larger society. The literature emphasized here in turn questions and critiques these analyses, generally stressing the strengths of Black families, the complexities of slavery in the shaping and adaptation of family life, and the continued structural oppressions that shape these experiences. All sides carry with them political and policy implications, which have in the past and continue today to influence the perceptions and well-being of Black American families. This work is not intended to be a definitive statement regarding the experiences of largely diverse groups of families, but instead a critical look at the structural forces that affect the lives of Black families and the systematic racism that informs public discourse about Black families and scholarship.



Moras, Amanda, Constance L. Shehan and Feliz M. Berardo. "African American Families: Historical and Contemporary Forces Shaping Family Life and Studies." Handbook of the Sociology of Racial and Ethnic Relations. Ed. H. Vera and J. R. Feagin. New York: Springer, 2007.

ISBN 9780387708447